The former head of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Don Schiefelbein says the Biden Administration is “missing in action” on trade.
Schiefelbein told Ways and Means lawmakers at a field hearing on his Minnesota farm, he couldn’t get U.S. beef at a restaurant in the UK, where U.S. beef has hit its quota under ancient agreements, “We’ve got to have an administration that just simply engages. There is no engagement right now in trade.”
A charge the White House just can’t break free of despite back-to-back record years of farm exports. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at an April Ag appropriations hearing, “Tariff reductions and expansion of the safeguard in Japan has led to more beef exports. Tariff reductions on corn, wheat, and frozen pork in Vietnam. Tariff reductions in the Philippines for corn, pork, and poultry. Tariff reductions to expand opportunities and blending requirements for expansion of ethanol in Panama, and expanded poultry access in the Middle East.”
But Schiefelbein told NCBA’s “Beltway Beef” podcast the White House refuses to do more traditional market-opening FTAs. He says, “Right now, we have a trade group in this current administration that I call the ‘MIA’—missing in action. Here we have all these people who want to do business with America, and they’re being stonewalled with an administration, who, for whatever reason, we don’t know, but they just don’t seem to want to engage in trade.”
A view Schiefelbein says is held in both parties. U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai told lawmakers last year the administration’s moved beyond FTAs to take a new approach. Vilsack told lawmakers in April, “the problem in America today is that there are not enough Americans who trust trade”—except maybe in agriculture.